New project on Norse Nobility during and after the Viking Age

+9 votes
I'm looking for volunteers to help assist me and others in forming a group dedicated to those who came from Scandinavia and have ancestors that date prior to 1700. I have many ancestors that can be traced back to the Viking age I just need help in getting many of the facts and dates for many of these people in order.

I want the focus to be on noble houses of Norse ancestry (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) during the Viking age AD 700 to 1066 and up to the formation and breakup of the Kalmar Union.

The vikings were great seafarers who explored all of coastal Europe, England/Ireland and the Black Sea. They were one of the first to discover Iceland, Greenland and the eastern coast of Canada. Because of this their influence on Europe was great enough that upper and middle class nobles were able to marry into many of the continental noble homes of europe. For refference you can see the posted Wikipedia article:
WikiTree profile: Space:Norway
in Requests for Project Volunteers by Adam McQuery G2G2 (2.3k points)
edited by Adam McQuery
Hi Adam; I understand and support your idea to identify those who came from a Norse background as distinct from Danish, but it is surely impossible to exclude the Danes from from any term that includes Viking or Viking kings? Having said that, I think the term Viking is probably best being contained to the activity that it was applied to 'raiding'.

Sweden did not exist during the Viking era, so that would be irrelevant anyway, so that is one complication removed, but the period in which the Danish hegemony extended to include England, Scotland, much of Ireland, and all of Norway and most of modern-day Sweden, includes such names as Sweyn Forkbeard and Cnut who were kings in these places simultaneously (albeit Sweyn's kingship in England was short-lived and never really reached outside of Gainsborough!)

Having a separate group that does specifically look at the wandering and settling Norse is, nonetheless, a great idea. It will be this group that were responsible for the Scandinavian influence in the English Lake District, the Isle of Man and Dublin.

Good luck with your project!

Thanks for your support. I know the Viking age was one of turmoil and a ton of violence. I have many branches of my own tree that come from the Vigen branch, Vestfold branch, Hardrada dynasty, Gille dynasty and Sverre dynasty. You are correct that it is almost impossible to separate Norway and Denmark from each other especially when the Kalmar Union is brought into play, but that is much later on after the Viking age has come to an end.
Adam and John,

Then you would also have to determine how the "Normans" are to be considered.  My DNA indicates that I am of Nordsmen descent, and have Dupuytrens to back it up.  But the DNA also claims that I am of Alpine Celt, so where would the starting point be? DCGibbs
Hi David

I think that Adam's idea is less about genetics and more about a period in history as it relates to a particular country ( i.e. Norway) and the diaspora specifically related to that group.

Based on DNA I would be surprised to find that it can seriously distinguish between the various groups that populated the whole area around the North Sea since the start of the current inter-glacial period.

It would also be impossible to distinguish, as you infer, from the descendants of Rollo and his followers in Northern France, or their descendants in France or even in southern Italy after the Norman foundation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

However, Adam's intended project he says is about the Norse Vikings, which he believes are distinguishable from the Danish Vikings. I can see real difficulties with it in establishing a clear distinction because there are no records. For example, the founding Duke of Normandy, Rollo, was clearly of Viking stock and from Scandinavia, but there has been no irrefutable evidence put forward about whether he was Norse or Danish. We may infer from the linguistic legacy of place-names in England that there were some variants in what most refer to as Old Norse. These variants are often believed to infer a distinction between Danish and Norse dominated settlements - but there is, again, no firm evidence.

I was in correspondence some years ago with a British born professor whose speciality was Scandinavian place-names in England (especially in Yorkshire!). She held her chair at the University of Copenhagen and was associated with the Institute for place-names there. She explained to me the probable differences based on the use of certain key words that might be common in Old Norse and not in Old Danish and vice versa, but generally these languages were variants from a recent common root - a bit like British English and that spoken in either the US or in Australia, for example.

Notwithstanding all of those difficulties. Adam would not include the Normans simply because when Rollo (whether Norse or Danish), when he became Duke of Normandy ceased the prime activity that would have rendered him a Viking - he stopped raiding by ship for booty or land. Where his descendants went on to invade and conquer other lands (including England) these were not recorded in history as Viking raids!
I really thought it would include all Scandinavia, because there was a lot of mixing among them.  As a half-Dane, I have been specializing in the Viking era in my work.  I was led there by Danish roots and by my Scottish side that had a Nordic ancestor as well.  Which brings me to this point - among the Scandinavians, when Danes invaded, they tended to stay, create farms, intermarry, etc.  Other groups mostly plundered and returned home. That said, it doesn't seem practical to parse them out into separate groups because the communities were in constant flux and the designations we use were not even in effect until much later. My preference is to emphasize the common heritage and treat them primarily as a homogeneous group, because it avoids needless agonizing over Swedish? or Norwegian?. For that reason, my profiles avoid country names as last names, and I prefer the -son and -dottir usage because they make it easier to continue further back in history. We all have something to offer, even in our disagreements.

I can definitely see a need for a NORWAY project but start working on the profiles that are already here ( date after 1500 ).

( where records are available).

Sheri, I agree and see that it would be more appropriate to label it as Norse or Scandinavian nobility rather than have it just Norwegian, Danish or Swedish nobility. That can be broken down at a later time and can be decided upon by the group when we get to that point.

Fantastic! There doesn't seem to be a project for Norway and it is needed.  My particular problem is that there are sooooo many pre 1700 profiles that need merging, and we are instructed to NOT MERGE these, just refer them to the appropriate project, but there is none.  Many are orphans, so I can't even propose a merge, cause it goes directly to merging them. Also, I frequently find females named son of somebody, so we need a project that can deal with these - I don't like closing the screen and leaving them as they are. 


Adam, I think that ought to be Nordic or Scandinavian. Norse usually (but not always) refers to the people of Norway (or their language), Scandinavia most commonly refers to Norway, Denmark and Sweden, but not Finland or Iceland (or Greenland, the Faroes and other places for that matter); these are however referred to as being Nordic countries, by the people in those countries.

It is not simply a cultural, language or ethnicity issue but more of an economic and pragmatic one. Finland, is home to indigenous people whose cultural identity and language is quite separate from the Norse-Danish Scandinavian countries. yet, within its modern borders there are huge numbers of people whose ancestry and cultural identity is Scandinavian. For that reason the Finns tend to consider themselves Nordic, but not Scandinavian.

I have to confess wondering why we are so worried about the nobility? At the distances we are now in time from the Viking era - the most likely confirmation that there is of links (in any modern nation) to these far off people is by DNA - yet we probably have very few actual DNA samples of the people who were Viking, so we would not actually know who the 'nobles' or their descendants were until much later records. So we need to consider DNA as a distribution and track their DNA history - and that's when it becomes very difficult in England especially.

Here in England we have DNA in indigenous folk whose ancestors arrived via modern day Denmark, North Germany or the Low Countries, and those who arrived via Norway and entered these islands much further north into England or Scotland. These migrations were occurring regularly after the last glacial maximum and right through the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages - long before the Vikings. Because of the distribution of people radiating from the relatively ice free refuges of the last glacial maximum even many of the later Anglo-Saxons in England would have shared DNA with both the Vikings and the later Normans. So I must wonder how useful profiles of the Viking age will actually be - noble or not!
Hi John & David,

Halpogroups within our DNA can (and does) tell us more about where we migrated from, but there are very specific halpogroups that tell us when we are of Rurik dynasty, as well as others that tell us Olaf II [Dane] is also in the mix.  I think this proposed project would be awesome.  A lot of work - but awesome, none the less.

Rurik dynasty here (DNA discovery), I'm guessing most all of the folks that work on the Nobility of the Nodic would need the Pre-1500 badge.
I have come across those female 'sons' (and male datters); I too had no idea what to do, or who to ask about them. Naming conventions before migration to America, is sometimes very tricky for the novice.  


7 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
Ok, so I've been getting many questions as to scope and depth of who is "Viking" what is a Scandinavian or what is the focus. Let me give you a little background into myself and where I'm coming from and what I'd like to see.

I've been working on my Norse family tree since I was about 10 yrs old pouring over paperwork, books and other documents with my grandfather. We both were able to trace back our family tree on both sides of his family to pre AD800. Because both his mother and father came from upper middle class families there is an intertwining of nobility starting from 800 and going through the late middle ages into the mid 1700 when they transitioned to be more merchant class than upper class. On my father's side of the family they are mostly all Scot/Irish but, because of many interactions during the Viking age my parents are actually very distant cousins. I hold a degree in history from Washington State University and wrote many research papers on this period of history. Focusing on the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. My research also included the Welfs of Saxony and the noble houses of Northern Europe.

Now, as to the project. I stated that I wanted to focus on the nobility of Norway, however, this is a misnomer. Looking at history pre AD 1066 or the formation of the Kalmar Union in AD 1397 many of the noble houses of Norway and Denmark were one in the same. There were periods of time that nobles from either place claimed lands that were distinctly their own and not jointly ruled but, there were times when the crown or land was jointly controlled. So, for simplicity sake we can call this the Norse nobility or nobility from Scandinavia. After the Battle of Stamford Bridge and Hastings the Vikings in general went into decline and retreated back to northern Europe. No longer sending out large raiding parties to pillage England or coastal Europe.

Also, someone, wrote about William the Conqueror. Technically, yes, he was of Viking ancestry, through Rolo. William was fighting his own cousins at Hastings. He and Harold Godwinson were of Norse ancestry. Yet, William is identified as Norman and not Viking or Norse. Just as I'm identified as American and not Scottish or Norwegian. Now, for the period of time from 1066 to the formation of the Kalmar Union; Denmark, Sweden and Norway can be identified as independent nations till the death or marriage of nobles caused the houses to become merged again and formed the Union, you can blame the black death for the decline in population and the struggle for power from once powerful noble houses. Take Norway and Denmark until till Norwegian independence in the late 1800's. They were one in the same. The same can be said for Sweden till it broke away from the union in 1523.

So, I see three distinct periods to focus on. First, The Viking age itself from 750 to 1066. Second, the period from 1066 to the formation and breakup of the Kalmar Union. Lastly, from 1500 to the present. By doing it this way we can have those that aren't pre 1500 certified work on profiles as well. As for me and Sheri. We're both waiting to be approved on our pre-1500 certs. I hope this happens quickly because I have many profiles where I'm the sole manager.  

I'm sorry that this answer was so long but, there were to many questions to keep it short.

by Adam McQuery G2G2 (2.3k points)
selected by Debra Allison
Hi Adam, I do not that much about sources in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland that could confirm Viking ancestry. Are you to focus on profiles of people who descend from Vikings who came to the isles? Or are you going further back to Norway, Denmark and to what today is Sweden? You write that you are interested in the ones that are not of noble birth. What sources are there for those people? Is it even possible? When it comes to Sweden it is very difficult pre 1600 to find your ancestors unless they were nobles and even then it is not easy. Pre 1300 is almost hopeless. I do not find sources like Snorre fully trustworthy and when it comes to the early kings there are hardly any others. How does the reformation and the break-up of the union fit in? It is, as you say, well after the Vikings ruled. I would just like to try to get a better understanding of your project.
Lena, I agree with your point of view.  Too many people rely on information left by Snorre.  I think anything that comes from a person's personal ancestor list, any saga or legend, anything of wiki-anything, even the Peerage, should be noted on top of the profile, and credible alternate information should be offered.  You'll see that most of my ancient profiles contain the warning that the person's life cannot yet be verified. The over-eager profiler thinking this is known fact could infer connections that are impossible.I am wondering if this is the reason for new restrictions being placed on managers for pre-1500.  Persons who use the name only as a way of identifying a parent or spouse, particularly with Scandinavian names that repeat through generations, should be closely monitored for mis-matches.   That said, the more possible links are listed, the greater chance of finding the right one.

The reasons for the pre-1500 badge are several. We felt that there should be a new badge, that 1700 was not enough, because people were creating duplicates and not mentioning sources enough. You can find the discussion why it became 1500 and not 1000 here:

So what sources would you use for the vikings?

Lena, being a history major and buff. I seem to collect a lot of books. These are a few in my Paper and Digital library.

Viking Empires
By Angelo Forte, Richard D. Oram, Frederik Pedersen. Cambridge Press

Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014
By Clare Downham Dunedin Academic Press, 2007

Jorvik: the Viking kings
By Hazel Martell Bingstead, 1984

Kings and Vikings: Scandinavia and Europe AD 700–1100
By P.H. Sawyer 1982

When Denmark Came to be: From Viking Kings to Valdemars
By Mari Schmidt Da Danmark blev til, 2012
+5 votes

Check this project many of these profiles are already here.  FMG is well-sourced.

European Royals and Aristocrats 742-1499 Project.

European Aristocrats Source main source for medieval genealogy in the European Aristocrats Project is the FMG database MEDIEVAL LANDS: A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families by Charles Cawley,© Charles Cawley & Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, 2000-2015.

1. You can do searches within FMG to target specific people.

Normandie-54 Hrolf Robert (Rollo) "le Marcheur, the Walker, The Dane, Duke of Normandy"

2. Do a name search in Wiki then sort by Birth

Hope that helps.



by Sandy Edwards G2G6 Mach 7 (73.3k points)
Sandy, I guess I need to clarify my statement better. Yes, I understand that they have a group dedicated to early european aristocrats and I have worked with many of the members in this group. I need help with the lesser known or non-aristocratic Vikings. Many records are "legend" or "myth".

Thanks Adam -- Well if you are not looking for the rich and famous

-- seems I did hit on a few of these (historical) generic pages when I was doing Celtic/ Pictish research, If memory serves they (Norsemen) were of germanic origins - although the only links I have readily available are:

Good luck in your project.

+5 votes
Hi Adam,

As I wrote earlier, I'd love to participate. Then, I got blocked by the new pre-1500 restrictions.  All was fine except when I got to the part that asked for a profile I was proud of.  I have very few with no other managers, so I gave up...for now.  I'll get back to it later.
by Sheri Sturm G2G6 (7.8k points)
+3 votes
Nobody born BC/BCE can be entered on WikiTree so that means many mythological genealogies are not encouraged , Pre-742.
by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (960k points)
edited by Maggie N.
+1 vote
Sorry, but why do we need a new project?  We already have the EuroAristo Project that covers these profiles.  What will a new project add?
by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (333k points)
Vic, I understand where you are coming from. As a member of the Euro Aristo project I see where there is a niche for distinguishing the noble houses of Northern Europe, not just England, Ireland, Scotland and Central Europe. Many of the norse nobility intermarried with many other noble homes. Norse nobility from AD 750 to 1066 played an integral role in the development of many other noble houses across the entire European continent.
+5 votes
I'm reading this thread in stunned disbelief.  There are no genealogical records.  All the "sources" are more or less fictitious.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
Enlighten me on what you consider to be a "genealogical record" for Scandinavia pre 1500? If you can find a source that isn't a historical document or out of a university press then I would use that. is the link to the national archives in Oslo. They only have records that go back to 1600. You can find tax, census, immigration, church and legal records along with genealogical records as well. However, when you are looking for historical facts on a person before a nation state or the church came into existence you have to turn from becoming a geneoligist into being a historian. What you call "fiction" is the best thing you can get when authentic or accurate documents do not exist.
+2 votes
For those of you who have shown interest in participating in a Scandinavian Nobility project. I have what you were looking for. With the help of the leadership in the Scottish Clans and Sweden project we have created a sub category under the Euro Aristo project. This project will focus on nobility from northern europe and will dovetail into several other projects as time goes along. For the time being we want to focus on the period of history after the death of Charlemagne and running through the peak of the Viking Age to the formation of the Kalmar Union roughly 760 to 1400 AD. This is before the formal formation of any nation states in Scandinavia. For example Norway has approximately 10-15 families who were formerly recognised as noble by Norwegian kings. These include Anker, Aubert, Falsen, Galtung, Huitfeldt, Knagenhjelm, Løvenskiold, Munthe af Morgenstierne, Roos, Treschow, Werenskiold, and the Counts of Wedel-Jarlsberg.

Category Page:

Resource Page:
by Adam McQuery G2G2 (2.3k points)
It looks like that whole page is copied from this Wikipedia page and possibly others.

In case no one has ever told you copying from Wikipedia is not something that is condoned according to the Styles and Standards of Wikitree

Generally copying from other sources is not encouraged

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